After the crippling humidity of Kuala Lumpur, with day after day making your clothes unwearable, the Cameron Highlands is a welcome reprieve.
We stayed in the town of Tanah Rata, which seems to be the main town in the area. We only had two nights here and as the first day only began after our bus journey from Kuala Lumpur, effectively that only left us with one full day. To be honest, there’s nothing remarkable about the town, but it is handy for having a look at the nearby tea planations, which was the main reason for our visit.
Cameron Highlands was discovered in 1885 by English surveyor William Cameron, who was under a commission by the colonial government. Forging a path through dense vegetation, he reached a magnificent and sublime plateau ‘shut up in the mountains’ along the vast Titiwangsa Range. Yet, the place lay unperturbed for 40 years, until British Administrator Sir George Maxwell took charge of its development as a hill station. Soon, hotels, schools, homes and even a golf course sprouted overnight, as British and locals settled in. Farmers and tea planters also streamed steadily into the valley, having found its soil to be fertile, and weather encouraging for crops.
During our first afternoon, we wandered along the main street where our attention was drawn to the little old man in the first photo. He was making what looked to us like Spanish churros – a delicacy usually eaten in Spain after being dipped in a thick hot chocolate drink. He carefully rolled out his dough, cut and separated the strips and then used a chopstick to make an indentation on every other strip. Two pieces were then put together, stretched and dropped into hot oil and a couple of minutes later – the result was cakoi. He was also deep frying small, sweet bananas which were 5 for 1 Malaysian ringgit (about 20p). They were absolutely delicious!
Whilst we were watching the cakoi man, we noticed a nearby restaurant which seemed very popular ,so we returned here later in the evening, where we feasted on plates of nasi goreng with beef and ginger, for less than one pound a plate!
Next day, we took a tour of the area in a mini bus with four other people – first to the Rose Centre where we saw some amazing tropical plants, including the stunning Jade Vine or Blue Butterfly.
Our next port of call was what we had been waiting for – the Boh Tea Plantation. We were able to see the tea bushes making wonderful patterns like big green jigsaws as we looked across the hillsides. We learned how the tea is picked and processed, but the best bit of all was, of course, to go into the cafeteria to enjoy a cup of Cameronian Gold blend tea – a lovely cuppa.
Before the end of the tour we had also managed to fit in visits to the Butterfly Garden, a strawberry farm and, of course, a temple!